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My Time As Tom: Trying Out To Be A Racing President

In my last post, I wrote about the Nationals’ recent tryouts to find worthy candidates to wear the Racing Presidents costumes during the upcoming 2017 season. Go read that to find out all the details of the day and check out some cool pictures.

In this post, I want to dive deeper into the moment I got to climb inside the Tom Jefferson costume and be a mascot myself.

Let me just say, it’s a lot harder than it looks. A lot.

I can’t reveal too much about the nuts and bolts of the mascot costume but essentially you strap yourself into a giant metal apparatus that’s pretty much all above your head. It’s extremely unwieldy and as soon as you start tipping one way or another, which is more or less inevitable, it’s really hard to get things back into balance. This is particularly true because the whole point is to make exaggerated movements that simultaneously look natural and hype up the crowd.

Let’s just say I have great respect for the professionals.

So, how’d I do? Let’s go to the video tape.

All in all, I’m going to say that’s not too bad. It was my very first time doing anything besides standing or slowly walking in the mascot costume and so staying on my feet was an accomplishment. As you can see, there’s some definite swaying going on but I’m more or less able to recover it and get through the line.

Is this the best dash that anyone ran at the tryout? No. Not by a very very long shot. But it’s not the worst either. I think with a little practice, I could be respectable at this. So far.

Let’s check out the long race now. Here’s where things kind of go off the rails.

Right off the bat, Abe is clearly the fastest, something that would make sense if you saw the guy underneath. However, I seemed to be holding my own against George until about the 7 second mark.

You see, visibility in the mascot suit is horrendous, and on top of that my beanie kept slipping down over my eyes, so I was essentially running blind. At the 7 second mark I tried to look up to get my bearings, a big mistake with the massive rig on my back.

At 8 seconds, it’s clear I’m losing it and at 9 seconds I over-correct and totally wipe out. It’s hard to tell in the video but the fall actually felt great. It was much more of a dive than a fall, a lot like diving into second base. And I slid a bit on the turf.

Getting up is a point of mascot pride and every mascot that fell throughout the day was determined to get back to their feet on their own. It was something the Nats instructors seemed really pleased about when a candidate could do it, so I was happy to get up by myself and keep going.

The race was lost. At about the flag pole in right field, it’s clear that I’m more worried about my hat and Tom’s head completely obstructing my view than finishing the race. Though I wasn’t the fastest, I think I at least didn’t make a fool of myself.

That is, until the race back. But I’m not posting that video.

Actually, my fall wasn’t even close to the hardest wipeout of the day. It was a tough call but that distinction might belong to this guy:

-Max Frankel

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